Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Martin Nievera on Saipan

Sunday night was quite the event on the tiny island of Saipan. Tan Holdings, who has been the largest private employer on this island for the past 25 years was celebrating their 35th anniversary of being in business in the Marianas, they started out on Guam. Jerry Tan, President of Tan Holdings on Saipan decided he wanted to do something special to give back to the community and the workers that have been with him for so many years, so he decided to bring Martin Nievera back for a free concert. I have never seen traffic jams on Saipan like I saw trying to get to the concert Sunday night. Normally I will do anything to avoid those kinds of situations, I really don't like crowds, and I got my fill of concerts back in my country radio days, but I felt a bit of an obligation to go to his concert this time around.

Martin was here 2 years ago for a concert to raise funds for the Northern Marianas College Foundation. The concert was on a Saturday night, and I got a call on Saturday morning asking if I could interview Martin on the radio to help promote the concert. That's right, it was a Saturday so you know where I was, off diving. But they did manage to catch me right before I jumped in the water. I told them I was about to dive, but to meet me in the studio in 2 hours and I'd interview him between dives. I went in to the studio still dripping wet from the dive with my swimsuit still on. Martin was a good sport about it and didn't seem to mind at all. We had a great conversation and the interview was awesome. We seemed to hit it off and had a good time with each other. He of course invited me to the concert that night and said he would be expecting to see me there. But I figured he probably said that to everybody. I had some guests from off-island who I was taking diving that day, and they were coming over to my house after diving for a cookout, so I knew I probably wouldn't be able to make the concert. Needless to say, I didn't wind up going to the concert 2 years ago. During dinner I got a call from Teri, who was at the concert, she wanted to know where I was. I explained to her about my guests and that I was home having dinner with them. She said that Martin just talked about the interview he did with me, and was asking me to come up to the stage. She then held the phone out so I could listen as he dedicated a song to me and proceeded to sing it. Yeah, I was feeling pretty bad about not being there, but what can you do? The next day I met Martin again at the sponsors' lunch. He asked if I heard the song he dedicated to me. And because I did hear it over Teri's phone, I could in good conscience say that yes I did. I didn't bring up the fact that I had to hear it over a phone and that I missed the concert, I really couldn't see the point of including those details right then. So we said our goodbyes, and I figured I got out of that jam pretty easily.

A couple months later I was in Los Angeles for an operation. I had gotten out of the hospital a couple weeks earlier, but still had bandages covering the cut on my throat, and had lost a substantial amount of weight because I wasn't allowed to eat for a month after the surgery. Kelli and I went into a little restaurant called Islands in Long Beach, it's right across from the Convention Center. I was drinking my lemonade, looking on lustfully as Kelli ate her soup and nachos, and who should come walking into the restaurant, yup, Martin Nievera, half a world away from where I saw him last. As we were leaving we had to walk by his table, so I said hi to him on the way out. He looked up at me with a puzzled look for a second, then he said, "Harry? What are you doing here? You look like hell!" I told him it was nice to see him too, and then explained what I was doing there and why I looked like hell. We chatted for a few minutes and he said he would be back to Saipan and looked forward to seeing me once again when he returned. So this time around, since the radio station was once again a sponsor, and since my wife was one of the volunteer's that night helping out in the VIP area, and since I didn't want to chance making a fool of myself yet once again, I went to the concert. And I was impressed, Martin is definitely an entertainer. He puts on a great show and even when he encounters technical difficulties, he doesn't miss a beat and the show goes on. So yes, I actually went to the concert this time and have the pictures to prove it. One of the parts of the concert I enjoyed the most though was the opening act, 16 year old Heather Manley from Guam. This young girl has already won numerous talent and modeling competitions, and has performed all over Asia. Her voice just blew me away, she was pitch perfect and had an awesome stage presence. But the thing that impressed me the most about her was when the CD player stopped working that they were using for her music back up. Heather volunteered to go ahead and sing a couple songs acapella, in other words with no music background. Now when you have the music back up, you can make little mistakes here and there, and even miss a note and most people will never pick up on it. But when it's just your voice, everything had better be absolutely perfect, and it was. Heather never missed a note, she was absolutely flawless. Keep an eye on her, because she will be going places, she has a very bright future ahead of her.